Video courtesy of Mike Delizo, DZMM
MANILA - Negotiations for the code of conduct (COC) to manage tensions in the South China Sea are expected to begin on November 14, foreign affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said Thursday.
The framework, which would help structure negotiations toward the crafting of the actual sea code, was adopted by foreign ministers during the ASEAN-China meeting in August.
It was endorsed 15 years since negotiations between the ASEAN and China began, during which time Beijing has continued building islands and strengthening its military presence in the disputed waters.
"Una muna the COC is there to manage the disputes, not to resolve it, in the same way that the arbitral award clarifies who owns what but just the maritime entitlements of coastal states," Bolivar said.
"Iyong COC, ang hope natin since it's definitely more binding than (the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea), it will help prevent future incidents in the South China Sea from escalating."
China claims nearly all of the aquatic territory, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.
Its sweeping claims are in conflict with those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.
China has previously said that it had completed its reclamation projects in an area of the South China Sea known as the Spratlys.
– with Mike Delizo, Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News; AFP